Since language is driven by cognitive principles that seem to be common to all humans irrespective of time and place, ancient languages (such as Biblical Hebrew, Greek, and Latin) are expected to exhibit complex-dynamic behavioural patterns similar to those discovered in modern languages. Therefore, we would like to contribute to the development of a framework that would explain how ancient languages work by taking into account current crosslinguistic evidence as well as the most recent advances in linguistic theories, cognitive sciences and studies on complexity.
We envision an advanced and extensive analysis of meaning in ancient languages with a particular reference to Biblical Hebrew. To achieve this, we aim to:
Understand the forces driving and underlying the formation, expansion, and channelling of meaning in language, both from the "etic" (i.e. language as an agent) and the "emic" (i.e. speakers as agents) perspective.
Develop means to model the complexity of meaning that harmonize to a greater extent with the realistic state of affairs, i.e. as found in nature.
Show how this new understanding of meaning and its modelling help to read and translate ancient texts more adequately, especially the Hebrew Bible.
We aim to establish a venue for pioneering, multidisciplinary and collaborative research at the Department of Ancient Studies for local and international scholars who seek to describe how meaning works in languages.
We aim to engage postgraduate students from Stellenbosch University for advanced research in the area of ancient languages and linguistics.
For the next two years (2016–2017) we plan to conduct or accomplish the following research activities:
One co-authored volume—The Semantics and Pragmatics of Biblical Hebrew—directed to advanced students, teachers, and researchers
Various collaborative articles
Workshops and/or research seminars
Alexander Andrason (Stellenbosch University)
Christo HJ van der Merwe (Stellenbosch University)
Josh Westbury (Faithlife, USA)
Kristopher Lyle (Faithlife, USA)
Christian Locatell (Stellenbosch University)
Daniel Rodriguez (Stellenbosch University)
Jack Messarra (Stellenbosch University)
Jeremy Thompson (Faithlife, USA)